Sunday, May 31, 2015

"If thoughts can do this to water..."


Last weekend we watched "What The Bleep Do We Know..." The movie is 10 years old! It stars Marlee Maitlin as Amanda who goes on an Alice in Wonderland like adventure while philosophers and scientists present their ideas and studies about quantum physics.

Now before you tell me that you barely made it out of high school chem class, the information presented juxtaposed with Amanda's journey awakens us all to a world of possibility and harnessing the power within us to create our lives.

I began my journey eight and a half years ago as the intention and emotion I experienced through my poetry, despite being in a fragile, deconditioned and decompensated body drove my physical, mental and Spiritual transformation that continues today.

One of my favorite scenes is "The Water Scene" - take two minutes to watch it:


"Makes you wonder doesn't it? If thoughts can do that to water, imagine what our thoughts can do to us."

I KNOW what our thoughts can do to us and for us.

Shortly after receiving the diagnosis of post polio syndrome, what medicine calls a progressive neuromuscular disease, I had an abnormal mammogram. In fact, the diagnosis of post polio syndrome manifested from my years of self loathing coupled with being in a constant state of fight/flight survival mode in response to severe childhood trauma. For one week before returning for a repeat mammogram, I meditated and focused all of my energy on seeing my breast tissue as healthy. Given that I was dealing with the diagnosis of post polio syndrome, I felt with every fiber of my Being that I was not and could not add breast cancer into the mix despite having an extensive family history of the disease. The only outcome I could see and feel and breathe was that this tumor would dissolve.

When I returned for my follow up mammogram, I confidently told the technician that this was really not necessary because the tumor was gone. She was kind and supportive and said they had a wonderful oncology team available at MGH who would give me the best possible outcome with the best treatments available. I told her that she'll see and the doctors will see - it's gone!

She took extensive views and the doctor examined them with a "fine tooth comb." They concluded it must have been an artifact or a mistake on the first reading. I know different. I felt the tumor. They saw the tumor but they could not imagine that I could heal myself.

Last December when my knee became inflamed, I briefly returned to Western medicine to get a handle on what I needed to heal. But I didn't stay there. The messages they sent me were words of caution and admonishment that running wasn't a great idea but since they knew I would run away that longer distances were definitely out if I wanted to preserve my knee joint.



While I knew that I could heal myself using my mind as I had when I was first diagnosed with post polio syndrome and went on to run the 2009 Boston Marathon, I knew that since I wanted to take my healing to the next level, I needed to find a partner for this next phase of my journey. The Universe answered my call with Jeffrey Spratt, principal of Spratt Muscular Therapies

In a recent treatment with Jeff, I had the epiphany that when I had reconstructive leg surgery and a total of 5 leg/knee surgeries on my left leg coupled with the history of paralytic polio, and repeated childhood rape, that the energy was blocked in my left leg resulting in osteoarthritis, bone spurs, a lipoma and I now forget what else was reported out on the MRI. As Jeff takes time during the treatment to do energy healing to boost what I do in my meditation (more on meditation in tomorrow's post), I can feel my knee come alive. I can feel it pulsating and energy moving through it which dissolves what was formed when energy was blocked.

I keep a healing journal and am now writing down my affirmations. Here is a sampling:
~I am healthy, whole, confident and strong

~The tremors are healed. I bless Jeff for bringing this into my consciousness. Jeff brings a cold bottle of water after the treatment. After my first treatment, I took the bottle and commented on how I realized that my hands shaking are a response to violence. Then I would politely take the bottle and put it in my bag feeling embarrassed to have my hands shake in front of him. But two weeks ago I bravely took the water and said to him that I hadn't taken it before because I was embarrassed for him to see my hands shake. I could feel his compassion and then he said that when he had the intention to heal the tremors during the treatment, his hands got hot!

I had never thought to put this out there before now even though I've wrestled with them for decades.

Through weekly treatments with Jeff, I feel the energy flowing and fear melt away. I visualize and embody strong, steady hands and feel my wholeness of Being. I don't look in the mirror and say oh the tremors are still there; I see myself with my third eye without any tremors. I embrace experiencing my strong, steady hands and energy flowing from my back all the way down my arms without interruption. I smile. I feel the back of my cervical spine open as though I am opening a window and allowing fresh air to come in to allow spinal fluid and energy to flow.

Jeff also practices cranio-sacral therapy and I can feel the movement of my spinal fluid finding new ways to be and move erasing the effects of paralytic polio and violence. As he held my head and cued me to take a deep breath and let it all go, he led me through a guided meditation that I now practice on my own to feel comfort, ease and freedom of movement in my head and cervical spine.

~My left knee has full range of motion. I feel the scar tissue dissolve in my mind's eye and feel a comfortable and easy stretch when I stretch my quads. In last week's treatment, I had almost full range of motion. I open up to the possibility and feel it happen.

~I run a 12 minute mile. The actual time doesn't ultimately matter but I see myself as running with ease and being swift of foot. I see myself and embody myself as an endurance runner. Period. I was a mobility impaired runner. Now I am building strength, confidence, endurance and ultimately speed. When I do my sit ups and crunches I see myself as ageless creating and forging and forming the endurance runner within me.

I feel the heal. I journal and write poetry feeding myself well on thoughts that create my new reality. I meditate, work out and work with Jeff. I am unstoppable. I am invincible. And all things are possible! "If thoughts can do this to water...."

Feel the Heal

The Potter’s wheel with loving hands a figure forms brave and true
breaking mold cast by others, Triumphant Spirit emerges shining through.
In the likeness of Divine’s image, all excess baggage gently melts away
unbridled freedom, joy, resilience fired up whole without fringe or fray.
Rhythmic turnings ever so slowly, tender kindness she feels the heal
Potter pauses as work now finished, she gracefully leaps from Potter’s wheel.
Color and shape beyond compare magnificent in radiant sun
going the distance helps others to heal fueling her 26.2 mile run.
Transcending transforming no pain can last, grit and gratitude fill heart and soul
leave doubts and fears in dust of memories past
sights set clearly on finish line goal.
In the distance the Potter’s cheering that Voice so clear rises above the din
she feels in every fiber of her Being this race is hers to win.
Pacing, persistent and patient in each moment she feels the heal
reminded of her humble true beginnings blessed by grace on Potter’s wheel.


BE BLESSED! JOURNEY WELL! TO ALL GOOD THINGS.....

I chronicle the first 7 years of my healing journey in Coming Home:A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility.


In Journey Well, the journey continues in the wake of my nephew's suicide on 3/4/11 and the events of 4/15/13. Through my journey of healing and transformation, we learn that no matter what life circumstances happen to us, we can always find a way to journey well.


50% of book proceeds from all of my books, available on Amazon are donated to the Massachusetts Resiliency Center to support 4/15/13 Boston Strong survivors and their families.

I am working on my new book, Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems which brings together my best poems of the last 8 years and will include my latest poems as I continue to feel the heal and move forward in my life.



Saturday, May 30, 2015

My Running Chronicles: Erasers and Foot Strikes



After contracting paralytic polio and growing up in a home rife with substance abuse and violence, I received a lot of negative messages. Why they even tried to kill me on several occasions. Fortunately, they obviously did not succeed but living under constant stress, fighting for my life, took a toll and eight and a half years ago my body started shutting down.

Writing poetry opened up the portal to possibility and healing. The first poem I penned in February 2007 was Running the Race which foreshadowed my 2009 Boston Marathon run even though I had never run a day in my life and was using a leg brace, a cane and at times a wheelchair for mobility.

Last December, my knee blew out. It was a blessing in many ways letting me know that I needed to cross train and build core strength. But I almost let it end my running career.

Fortunately, that fire inside of me would not and could not die because running is my medicine and my therapy to heal trauma and to also nourish my neuromuscular system to replenish what the polio virus destroyed.

Today on my 4 mile run along Wollaston Beach I reflected on John Bingham's quotes about running shoes being erasers and how each foot strike carries us forward. I can only be in the present moment when I run. I can feel my wholeness, my health, my strength, my courage for all I have overcome. My heart overflows with gratitude that I am alive and made it through some of the most challenging and horrific circumstances that one can experience in this life.

I felt unbridled joy despite the heat and did not want to stop at 4 miles but know that I need to allow my body to get conditioned to running again and to be smart in how I build endurance this time as I train for the 2016 Newport Marathon to raise money and awareness for the Arredondo Family Foundation.

Everyday many Veterans and Active Duty Soldiers take their own lives. Many of these men and woman carry a burden associated with PTSD ( Post Traumatic Stress Disorder ) related to their military service. Most do not reach out for help and instead turn to suicide. Military family members are left devasted and have difficulty coping with a suicide death. The Arredondo Family Foundation supports our troops and military families to let them know they are not alone. The AFF provides emergency funds to Massachusetts families who have experienced a military related suicide, does outreach and education to prevent suicide and has also established the first ever military sibling scholarship for the sibling of a service man or woman who attends U Mass Boston.

Much happened to me in the past. My running shoes erase those experiences and each foot strike carries me forward.

Foot Strike

Each strike struck a chord of fear
helplessness
terror.
How would I ever reclaim my life?
Holding onto hope
waiting for the day
when memories would no longer weigh heavy
free to run my own race.
Stomping in anger
striking back
shadow boxing with the thief
who stole away childhood innocence
a no win.
Each foot strike ignites my soul
fired up to run my best race
taking the lead
breaking finisher’s tape

today I won my race.



"We can either watch life from the sidelines, or actively participate. Either we let self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy prevent us from realizing our potential, or embrace the fact that when we turn our attention away from ourselves, our potential is limitless."
~Christopher Reeve


Be blessed! Journey well! To all good things...

My latest book, "Journey Well" is now available on Amazon along with all of my inspirational books. 50% of book proceeds are donated to the Massachusetts Resiliency Center, a safe, welcoming space for survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing to heal and stay in touch with one another; a virtual hub for a widely dispersed community whose lives have been impacted by the tragic events of April 15th and the events that followed.

When terror struck the world's oldest and most beloved marathon on April 15, 2013, it was a defining moment in Mary McManus’ life and the lives of all those in Boston and around the world. It was her wake up call to return to the sport and community that have been medicine and a lifeline for her throughout her marathon of healing the late effects of paralytic polio and experiencing 9 years of domestic violence as a child and adolescent. Mary captures the essence of Boston Strong through her experience of the 2014 Boston Marathon and as she profiles the people who are Boston Stronger. Through her blog posts, poems and journal entries woven together with excerpts from her memoir, “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility,” you will experience, through one woman’s journey of transformation and healing, that no matter what happens to us, we can all learn to journey well.






Friday, May 29, 2015

Got problems?

Who doesn't right?



Ahhh but no worries because every problem brings incredible gifts.

When I was in the middle of water pouring through the ceiling in my upstairs hallway, through windows and the back door and snow was piled so high we thought we'd never see our back stairs again worried about how would we escape if God forbid there was a fire (Tom told me we could jump out the window and land in the snow pile on the side of the house) I was feeling stressed to the max. People were telling us it would cost at least $2500 to clean the roof and remove the ice dams. Feeling overwhelmed at that point was an understatement. But Spirit is always at work if we open ourselves and ask for help.

First I saw a post from one of my friend's on Facebook that we could submit a claim to our insurance company. Water from above due to ice dams is covered in home owner's policy. We have worked with our agent for years and he was wonderful in helping to initiate the claim. The process went very smoothly and we will be getting additional monies as more damage was revealed as the snow and ice melted.

We needed to do work on the house and the ice dam damage gave us the push we needed.

In the midst of my panic, I was somehow able to hear Spirit suggest "two words" duct tape. There was a political joke about someone predicting the apocalypse and the answer to every problem was two words - duct tape. It certainly was the answer to our problem to prevent further water damage.

And then the Universe sent us Eddie the roofer who only charged us $400 to clear the snow off of the roof; explained to us what was causing the ice dams and that all we needed to do was put some holes in the ceiling to allow for quick drainage. Once the snow was off the roof, the leaking would stop. It took trust and faith in this total stranger that the leaking would in fact stop.

He also told us about Mass Save to have our insulation replaced and to get a home energy audit. We saved $2000 to get new insulation, have proper ventilation for our bathroom fan (which was in violation of a safety code), have work done to prevent ice dams from forming in the future and have already saved over $20/month on our electric bill from the energy audit.

Eddie also referred us to Mike the electrician to have the electrical work done. Mike also found code violations and brought us up to code while he did the repairs from ice dam damage.

As good fortune would have it, Eddie has not only been doing roofing, but does contract work. Next week we begin the final phase of repairs.

I am taking this opportunity to clean and have our home reflect the positive and amazing shift and transformation that is happening in our lives. We will buy a few new things but running things through the washing machine and doing a good scrubbing is really all that's needed.

I am taking it room by room and relishing in the transformation while the process of repairs is happening in other rooms.

It's amazing to feel the energy shift ...

So got problems? Who doesn't right but oh the gifts and treasures we discover wrapped up inside of the problems when we open up to the goodness and benevolence of the Universe. Just remember...



Be blessed! Journey well! To all good things...

My latest book, "Journey Well" is now available on Amazon along with all of my inspirational books. 50% of book proceeds are donated to the Massachusetts Resiliency Center, a safe, welcoming space for survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing to heal and stay in touch with one another; a virtual hub for a widely dispersed community whose lives have been impacted by the tragic events of April 15th and the events that followed.

When terror struck the world's oldest and most beloved marathon on April 15, 2013, it was a defining moment in Mary McManus’ life and the lives of all those in Boston and around the world. It was her wake up call to return to the sport and community that have been medicine and a lifeline for her throughout her marathon of healing the late effects of paralytic polio and experiencing 9 years of domestic violence as a child and adolescent. Mary captures the essence of Boston Strong through her experience of the 2014 Boston Marathon and as she profiles the people who are Boston Stronger. Through her blog posts, poems and journal entries woven together with excerpts from her memoir, “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility,” you will experience, through one woman’s journey of transformation and healing, that no matter what happens to us, we can all learn to journey well.


Thursday, May 28, 2015

"All better?" Training for the 2016 Newport Marathon is my Medicine

As I turned in the key to the locker room at Wave Health and Fitness after a rigorous 55 minute workout in the pool (20 minutes more than my workout time two weeks ago), I sighed.

"All better?" the delightful woman at the reception desk asked me.

"Oh yes" I replied. This place is a God send."



Many people would say that training for another marathon, and especially my running a marathon given how my knee joints look on MRI, is punishing my body. But for me, training for the 2016 Newport Marathon is medicine.

I know what it takes to run a marathon. Every workout I do has that intention behind it. I work on building strength, connecting with all of my body and pushing myself just that little extra every time to ensure that my body will be at its maximum peak performance come next October.

Running for myself and in honor of my nephew who suicided on 3/4/2011 adds more potency to the medicine. He jumped from his fishing boat as it was coming into Port Judith across from where I'll be running the Newport Marathon next year.

There is incredible joy in this journey. Joy is a most powerful healer.


Tom and I are going to take day trips to Newport this summer and Fall and train on the course. The photos that are being posted of the course on Facebook are breathtaking and I am eager to see them in person.



All better? Yes thanks to the healing energy of WaveHealth to support me in my training for the 2016 Newport Marathon along with healing all that went before by partnering with Spratt Muscular Therapies; being able to run unencumbered, happy and free feeling stronger in mind, body and Spirit every step along the way.

Be blessed! Journey well! To all good things...

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

My Running Chronicles: Feeling My Edge



It was the first hot running day of the season. We went back to Wollaston Beach to get in our training run for the Finish at the 50 5K happening July 3rd at Gillette Stadium.

At the end of the Beach, there is a steep grade uphill. We could have opted to turn around before the halfway point of our run and go farther on the flat surface by the Beach but I suggested we tackle the hill. I started out walking the hill but then was feeling the need to run up the hill.

After tackling the hill and reaching the halfway point for our run, I spotted a walker who was walking at a brisk pace on the pavement along the beach in the distance who I wanted to pass. We increased our pace and as we got closer to her, I broke into a sprint and passed her. I took a water stop, caught my breath and then resumed our run at a fairly good pace. I was hot and nauseous. I dumped water on my head, hydrated and then slowed down the pace to make sure I didn't get sick but oh how I loved feeling that I'd gone right up to my edge. My overall time was one of my best since I returned to the roads in late March and I did negative splits.

I learned what not to do on race day especially if it's hot. I need to pace myself and not set out to sprint in the middle of the race and pass anyone. I'll leave it in the tank until we near the finish.

I also learned that I don't have to be afraid of pushing myself. I went into the ocean after the run and once again allowed the swirling cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean to dissolve scar tissue in my left leg and heal my knees. I felt One with all that is and a sense of peace and invincibility, strength and determination, deep gratitude and unbridled joy that once again I am pushing myself and feeling my edge.

We went to Marathon Sports on our way home to pick up the money from the sale of my memoir. One of the women working there asked me if I was Mary McManus and if I had participated in AccesSportAmerica last year. She had accompanied me on one of my bike rides in a recumbent bike around the Charlestown Navy Yard. I remembered her and we took a moment to get caught up. She asked me if I was back at Spaulding and the adaptive sports program this season.

I told her that I'm so grateful for the work we did together at Spaulding and AccesSport but I had to graduate myself from their programs. As long as I was in rehab and adaptive sports, I was not giving my body the messages for total and complete healing. I was still carrying my diagnosis of post polio syndrome and I was still being cautious in what I was allowing my body to do. While staff try to help patients feel "as normal as possible", in truth, I was still a patient and receiving the subtle and at times not so subtle message to be cautious. And the encouragement to take a risk was coming from the outside by a staff member rather than me being in tune and in sync with what I needed and wanted to do.

So now I'm on my own figuring things out garnering the wisdom from inside and from trainers, teachers and coaches. I see myself and feel myself as whole, healed and happy. I run unencumbered, fearless and feeling my edge enjoying every step of this journey.

Be blessed! Journey well! To all good things...

My latest book, "Journey Well" is now available on Amazon along with all of my inspirational books. 50% of book proceeds are donated to the Massachusetts Resiliency Center, a safe, welcoming space for survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing to heal and stay in touch with one another; a virtual hub for a widely dispersed community whose lives have been impacted by the tragic events of April 15th and the events that followed.

When terror struck the world's oldest and most beloved marathon on April 15, 2013, it was a defining moment in Mary McManus’ life and the lives of all those in Boston and around the world. It was her wake up call to return to the sport and community that have been medicine and a lifeline for her throughout her marathon of healing the late effects of paralytic polio and experiencing 9 years of domestic violence as a child and adolescent. Mary captures the essence of Boston Strong through her experience of the 2014 Boston Marathon and as she profiles the people who are Boston Stronger. Through her blog posts, poems and journal entries woven together with excerpts from her memoir, “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility,” you will experience, through one woman’s journey of transformation and healing, that no matter what happens to us, we can all learn to journey well.




Monday, May 25, 2015

Building Strength and Confidence



I used to have difficulty getting up from sitting without using a table or the bathroom sink to support me. One day a couple of months ago, after practicing squats at the wall per Dr. Ryan of Elevate Health Cambridge, I decided that I could just stand up. I made up my mind to do it ... after realizing what was preventing me from doing it all these years. Yes in part there was physical weakness and deconditioning but what prevented me from completely healing after paralytic polio was bearing the brunt of my father's alcoholic rages. I remembered the phrases, "sit down before I knock you down" along with "who do you think you are? I'm going to knock you down to size." Once I brought these phrases into awareness, I was able to literally stand up to the fear I felt inside. The danger was long gone but in my mind, because I was so little when all of this happened, I was wired for weakness and not being able to find the strength to stand up for myself.

But all of that is changed now. I'd been wrestling with how do I feel strong and empowered without being afraid of my power that I would hurt the people who were hurting me. During yesterday morning's meditation, I thought about martial arts and a class we had in self defense at the VA called Unmuggable. I googled to see if they are still around. I know there are many classes in self defense for women but I couldn't find this particular one. A "mugger" was in a protective suit and they taught us how to defend ourselves in case we were attacked; to disarm the "mugger" hitting his vulnerable areas to give us enough time to get away. They also gave us safety tips such as never getting into a car even if held at knife point, staying in a lighted area and using keys and other objects we might have on hand to ward off the attacker.

I took the class with Mary Pat Regan who was the DAV Transportation Coordinator and we used to sign our emails after taking the class, The Unmuggable One. I can remember the sensations of being able to defend myself and how empowered and invincible we felt after taking the class.

Yesterday, after increasing my squats at the wall and feeling confidence and strength harnessing the power of my hip flexors and core to do a proper squat, I made up my mind that it was time to move away from the wall and just squat. Dr. Ryan said to me one day, you'll move an inch away from the wall and you will do a squat. And voila:



I can feel safe, strong and confident. I have faced every fear and looked death square in the eye at the hands of my alcoholic father and psychotic grandmother and with the neglect of my drug addicted mother.

And now - I get to do the impossible or what the Western medicine model said is impossible. I build strength, create new neuromuscular connections and neural pathways. I change the way I view myself and create a whole new physical reality for myself. I am healed, and I am whole. I am an endurance runner training for the 2016 Newport Marathon and I am happy - so incredibly happy and grateful to be alive connected to The Source that showers me with grace:

The Source

Wellspring of joy flows deep within soul
rising surprisingly healing brokenness whole.
Thawing and melting magnificence made new
cleansing congestion reveals radiance True.

Miracles arise from this sacred space
fears and pain transformed by Your Loving Grace.
Running and laughing happiness free
a raucous rampage a celebration spree.

Grounded sure footed it's time fancy fine
Divine Love a waterfall cascading spine.
Fools were blind to this treasure so rare
unstoppable unceasing heart open to share.

The joy in the journey a sight to behold
the glory her triumphs she runs brave and bold.
Each footstep each mile of 26.2
a champion reborn glorious Spirit shines through.



Be blessed! Journey well! To all good things...

My latest book, "Journey Well" is now available on Amazon along with all of my inspirational books. 50% of book proceeds are donated to the Massachusetts Resiliency Center, a safe, welcoming space for survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing to heal and stay in touch with one another; a virtual hub for a widely dispersed community whose lives have been impacted by the tragic events of April 15th and the events that followed.

When terror struck the world's oldest and most beloved marathon on April 15, 2013, it was a defining moment in Mary McManus’ life and the lives of all those in Boston and around the world. It was her wake up call to return to the sport and community that have been medicine and a lifeline for her throughout her marathon of healing the late effects of paralytic polio and experiencing 9 years of domestic violence as a child and adolescent. Mary captures the essence of Boston Strong through her experience of the 2014 Boston Marathon and as she profiles the people who are Boston Stronger. Through her blog posts, poems and journal entries woven together with excerpts from her memoir, “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility,” you will experience, through one woman’s journey of transformation and healing, that no matter what happens to us, we can all learn to journey well.





Sunday, May 24, 2015

Pure Imagination, Hope and Faith




Eight years ago, as I was preparing to leave the VA to heal my life, I did a 30 day journal on yellow legal paper (as though I were drafting a contract with myself) visualizing what life would be like for me in the future. I recycled it several years ago. I do smile when I think about some of the things I put down like being on Oprah and being a NY Times Bestselling Author (do not count out the latter one just yet) but one of the things that I included in my journal was going to work out every day at a health club. Seeing myself as healthy, vibrant, vital and whole, bringing an inspirational message to the world was the intention behind all that I imagined.

One of the ways I survived my chaotic and violent childhood and adolescence was to harness the power of my imagination. I held onto hope and faith that somehow somewhere there was a better life for me if I could just make it through.

When I ran 9 races in 9 months last year with two PR's, I harnessed the power of my imagination and the strength and will in my soul to make them happen.

My knee injury in December was a blessing and a wake up call for cross training and to make changes to allow more healing to happen. I was briefly drawn back into the medical model but quickly moved on to make sure that my intentions for total healing were aligned with what I was doing in my environment.

I'm training for another marathon!

First up is a 5K race on 7/3. I'm visualizing a great time (and yes I mean that literally and metaphorically) but I will run from the inside out seeing what I can accomplish on race day.

During my meditations, I imagine myself as though paralytic polio and violence never happened to me. What does that feel like? How does that look? I don't look in the mirror and say oh the tremors are still there; I see myself with my third eye without any tremors. I embrace experiencing my strong, steady hands and energy flowing from my back all the way down my arms without interruption. I smile. I feel the back of my cervical spine open as though I am opening a window and allowing fresh air to come in to allow spinal fluid and energy to flow. I am training myself to focus on the healing not on the wound.

I remind myself that I am already where I want to be and feel the joy of being without tremors, of having boundless energy, of feeling overflowing gratitude in my heart for these amazing outcomes that I see in my mind's eye that allows the physical transformation to follow.

And it works. Every time. With patience, practice, persistence, pacing, hope and faith.

If I would have imagined that going into the ocean yesterday would have been a bone chilling unpleasant experience, that's what would have happened but instead I knew that the cold icy salt water of the Atlantic Ocean would feel amazing after my 4 mile run. I now incorporate how I felt during and after going in the ocean into my meditation. I can feel how the swirling waters break up the scar tissue of 5 surgeries in my left leg and feel full range of motion return.

I recount the experiences where I have harnessed the power of my mind to heal. I had a wound on my nose that had not completely healed for several years. I finally decided to do something about it. I imagined it looking exactly the same as the other side of my nose. I hd total trust and faith that despite all appearances it was healed. Today there is only a small scar and it is indeed completely healed! I dissolved a tumor in my left breast and healed degenerative cervical spine disease including dissolving bone spurs and relieving a disc pressing on a nerve.

I have made up my mind that I deserve total healing. I feel love and compassion for myself knowing in every fiber of my being I never deserved what happened to me; that every child's birth right is to be in a safe, happy, warm and loving and laughing home learning how to manage struggles and challenges that come along. It is my birthright and I am now claiming that birthright to feel safe, happy, free, healthy, vibrant, vital and whole. It's wonderful to keep adding to my healing journal chronicling the miracles. Reading "You Are The Placebo" and having only those people who totally believe in me and the limitless possibilities for healing supports me in this process.

And the Universe echoes back a beautiful response to my song providing me with everything I need for total healing.



Be blessed! Journey well! To all good things...

My latest book, "Journey Well" is now available on Amazon along with all of my inspirational books. 50% of book proceeds are donated to the Massachusetts Resiliency Center, a safe, welcoming space for survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing to heal and stay in touch with one another; a virtual hub for a widely dispersed community whose lives have been impacted by the tragic events of April 15th and the events that followed.

When terror struck the world's oldest and most beloved marathon on April 15, 2013, it was a defining moment in Mary McManus’ life and the lives of all those in Boston and around the world. It was her wake up call to return to the sport and community that have been medicine and a lifeline for her throughout her marathon of healing the late effects of paralytic polio and experiencing 9 years of domestic violence as a child and adolescent. Mary captures the essence of Boston Strong through her experience of the 2014 Boston Marathon and as she profiles the people who are Boston Stronger. Through her blog posts, poems and journal entries woven together with excerpts from her memoir, “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility,” you will experience, through one woman’s journey of transformation and healing, that no matter what happens to us, we can all learn to journey well.










Saturday, May 23, 2015

My Running Chronicles: Wollaston Beach: Then and Now

The first place I took my tentative steps walking outside after coming out of my leg brace in the summer of 2007 was Wollaston Beach. I had walked away from my award winning almost 20 year career at the VA to step into my healing odyssey. I remember walking for 15 minutes and feeling exhausted but so grateful that I was walking and walking outside in the sunshine.

By October of 2007, I decided that I had to take another step forward on my healing odyssey and I hired a personal trainer. I made up my mind that if I were going to be in pain then I may as well hurt on the side of health. Despite the admonition from the medical community that sadly is told to many with a presentation of a "progressive neuromuscular disease," if you use it you will lose it, I knew that my body was literally and metaphorically burning to move. I had to listen to what my gut was telling me. I could not even complete the initial assessment. Janine told me that I was too young to be in the state I was in and that she would work with me to build strength.

After 6 months I was able to surpass my initial goals of getting off of a low toilet seat and being able to diversify the basic rehab program prescribed for me once I was discharged from outpatient rehab care. And then something stirred in my soul and I declared that I would run the 2009 Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab as was foreshadowed in the first poem I wrote in February of 2007, "Running the Race." Here I am coming down Comm. Ave. and my dear friend Reno Stirrat put an excerpt from that poem with this photo:



Life took many twists and turns for me on my healing journey but I've arrived here now, training for the 2016 Newport Marathon to raise money for the Arredondo Family Foundation.

Today we took our training back to Wollaston Beach where we did numerous training runs on our road to the Boston Marathon.

It was chilly and there was a strong headwind but the joy of being back at Wollaston Beach which holds wonderful memories of training for Boston as well as a wonderful way to realize how far I've come since that first tentative walk 8 years ago surpassed the weather. It was bright and sunny and I was running stride for stride, side by side with Tom, my partner in running and in life. He has supported me every step of this crazy journey as I took twists and turns to arrive where I am today.

We ran 4.01 miles and then did a .4 mile cool down walk. We had tracked the length of Wollaston on the car odometer but the distance by car is different than running on the pavement. Fortunately I had my Nike+ to keep us on track to not run more than 4 miles until after our 5K race on 7/3. Then we will increase distance to prepare for the Ogunquit Beach Lobster Dash, a 5 miler in September.

We had a wonderful time using people as pacers and to do fartleks. I used run/walk pacing and kept reminding myself that I've only been back training for two months and I am way ahead of the schedule I had set for myself to begin training in April.

We ran happy and free. I cleaned out my iTunes from songs that had been with me since the beginning of my healing odyssey that no longer support me on my journey. I downloaded new music and updated my marathon training playlist.

At the end of our run, Tom and I practice and visualize what it will feel like to cross the finish line on July 3rd on the 50 yard line of Gillette Stadium as we sprint to the finish holding hands and raising our arms in triumph. People may think we look strange celebrating our imaginary finish but we don't care.

Here is our post run selfie:


Dr. Ryan of Elevate Health Cambridge
who helped me with my post injury recovery recommended that I ice after every run. Wollaston Beach is about a 30 minute ride from our home so I decided to pack my bathing suit and a sweatshirt and take my first ice bath compliments of Mother Nature!

The air temperature was about 60 degrees and the water temperature 55 degrees. One of the "symptoms" of "post polio syndrome" is cold intolerance and I used to be very sensitive to the cold. But I harnessed the power of my mind and the desire to experience the healing of cold salt water today and took a post run ice bath:



Wollaston Beach then and now...an amazing journey these past 8 years and the journey continues on my road to the Newport Marathon 2016.

Be blessed! Journey well! To all good things...

My latest book, "Journey Well" is now available on Amazon along with all of my inspirational books. 50% of book proceeds are donated to the Massachusetts Resiliency Center, a safe, welcoming space for survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing to heal and stay in touch with one another; a virtual hub for a widely dispersed community whose lives have been impacted by the tragic events of April 15th and the events that followed.

When terror struck the world's oldest and most beloved marathon on April 15, 2013, it was a defining moment in Mary McManus’ life and the lives of all those in Boston and around the world. It was her wake up call to return to the sport and community that have been medicine and a lifeline for her throughout her marathon of healing the late effects of paralytic polio and experiencing 9 years of domestic violence as a child and adolescent. Mary captures the essence of Boston Strong through her experience of the 2014 Boston Marathon and as she profiles the people who are Boston Stronger. Through her blog posts, poems and journal entries woven together with excerpts from her memoir, “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility,” you will experience, through one woman’s journey of transformation and healing, that no matter what happens to us, we can all learn to journey well.


Friday, May 22, 2015

Memorial Day

We always seem to put "weekend" after the words Memorial Day. It conjures up the start of summer, bbq's, beach time, happiness, joy and freedom. But that freedom is not free and Memorial Day is not a weekend.

From the Department of Veterans Affairs website:

Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.

The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.

The ceremonies centered around the mourning-draped veranda of the Arlington mansion, once the home of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Various Washington officials, including Gen. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, presided over the ceremonies. After speeches, children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan Home and members of the GAR made their way through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers and singing hymns.

Local Observances Claim To Be First Local springtime tributes to the Civil War dead already had been held in various places. One of the first occurred in Columbus, Miss., April 25, 1866, when a group of women visited a cemetery to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers who had fallen in battle at Shiloh. Nearby were the graves of Union soldiers, neglected because they were the enemy. Disturbed at the sight of the bare graves, the women placed some of their flowers on those graves, as well.

Today, cities in the North and the South claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day in 1866. Both Macon and Columbus, Ga., claim the title, as well as Richmond, Va. The village of Boalsburg, Pa., claims it began there two years earlier. A stone in a Carbondale, Ill., cemetery carries the statement that the first Decoration Day ceremony took place there on April 29, 1866. Carbondale was the wartime home of Gen. Logan. Approximately 25 places have been named in connection with the origin of Memorial Day, many of them in the South where most of the war dead were buried.

Official Birthplace Declared In 1966, Congress and President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, N.Y., the “birthplace” of Memorial Day. There, a ceremony on May 5, 1866, honored local veterans who had fought in the Civil War. Businesses closed and residents flew flags at half-staff. Supporters of Waterloo’s claim say earlier observances in other places were either informal, not community-wide or one-time events.

By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held on May 30 throughout the nation. State legislatures passed proclamations designating the day, and the Army and Navy adopted regulations for proper observance at their facilities.

It was not until after World War I, however, that the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress, though it is still often called Decoration Day. It was then also placed on the last Monday in May, as were some other federal holidays.

Some States Have Confederate Observances Many Southern states also have their own days for honoring the Confederate dead. Mississippi celebrates Confederate Memorial Day on the last Monday of April, Alabama on the fourth Monday of April, and Georgia on April 26. North and South Carolina observe it on May 10, Louisiana on June 3 and Tennessee calls that date Confederate Decoration Day. Texas celebrates Confederate Heroes Day January 19 and Virginia calls the last Monday in May Confederate Memorial Day.

Gen. Logan’s order for his posts to decorate graves in 1868 “with the choicest flowers of springtime” urged: “We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. ... Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”

The crowd attending the first Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery was approximately the same size as those that attend today’s observance, about 5,000 people. Then, as now, small American flags were placed on each grave — a tradition followed at many national cemeteries today. In recent years, the custom has grown in many families to decorate the graves of all departed loved ones.

The origins of special services to honor those who die in war can be found in antiquity. The Athenian leader Pericles offered a tribute to the fallen heroes of the Peloponnesian War over 24 centuries ago that could be applied today to the 1.1 million Americans who have died in the nation’s wars: “Not only are they commemorated by columns and inscriptions, but there dwells also an unwritten memorial of them, graven not on stone but in the hearts of men.”

To ensure the sacrifices of America ’s fallen heroes are never forgotten, in December 2000, the U.S. Congress passed and the president signed into law “The National Moment of Remembrance Act,” P.L. 106-579, creating the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance. The commission’s charter is to “encourage the people of the United States to give something back to their country, which provides them so much freedom and opportunity” by encouraging and coordinating commemorations in the United States of Memorial Day and the National Moment of Remembrance.

The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation. As Moment of Remembrance founder Carmella LaSpada states: “It’s a way we can all help put the memorial back in Memorial Day.”

On May 30, 1868, a crowd of 5,000 gathered at Arlington National Cemetery for the first Decoration Day exercises. Before strewing flowers upon the graves of the dead, the crowd listened to an address by James A. Garfield (1831–81), then an Ohio congressman who had also served as a major general in the Civil War. In this first of such annual addresses at Arlington National Cemetery, Garfield, who in 1881 would become the 20th president of the United States, sets a standard by explaining what Decoration Day is all about and why it should be commemorated.

Garfield begins by asserting the poverty of speech in comparison to the deeds of the fallen. How does he ask us to regard the dead? And why should we the living envy them their lives and their deaths? What, according to Garfield, motivated the men to “condense life into an hour” and “joyfully welcom[e] death”? What does he mean by invoking the “unconscious influence” of past heroic sacrifices? How can “this silent assembly of the dead” become “voices [that] will forever fill the land like holy benedictions”? Why is Arlington National Cemetery a fitting resting place for these dead?

An excerpt from that speech:
I am oppressed with a sense of the impropriety of uttering words on this occasion. If silence is ever golden, it must be here beside the graves of fifteen thousand men, whose lives were more significant than speech, and whose death was a poem, the music of which can never be sung. With words we make promises, plight faith, praise virtue. Promises may not be kept; plighted faith may be broken; and vaunted virtue be only the cunning mask of vice. We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke; but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.

To read the full text visit: Decoration Day Address 1868



Let us honor our fallen heroes on Memorial Day and always hold those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom close in our hearts.


Be blessed! Journey well! To all good things...

My latest book, "Journey Well" is now available on Amazon along with all of my inspirational books. 50% of book proceeds are donated to the Massachusetts Resiliency Center, a safe, welcoming space for survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing to heal and stay in touch with one another; a virtual hub for a widely dispersed community whose lives have been impacted by the tragic events of April 15th and the events that followed.

When terror struck the world's oldest and most beloved marathon on April 15, 2013, it was a defining moment in Mary McManus’ life and the lives of all those in Boston and around the world. It was her wake up call to return to the sport and community that have been medicine and a lifeline for her throughout her marathon of healing the late effects of paralytic polio and experiencing 9 years of domestic violence as a child and adolescent. Mary captures the essence of Boston Strong through her experience of the 2014 Boston Marathon and as she profiles the people who are Boston Stronger. Through her blog posts, poems and journal entries woven together with excerpts from her memoir, “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility,” you will experience, through one woman’s journey of transformation and healing, that no matter what happens to us, we can all learn to journey well.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

#tbt Book Release Party for Coming Home:A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility

Saturday marks the one year anniversary since I launched my memoir, "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility." I hadn't given it much thought until I received this email this morning:

Hi Mary,

It was great seeing you again a few weeks ago. I was so happily surprised that you remembered me.
I wanted you to know that I just bought your memoir and read about 60 pages of it. I find it so incredibly inspiring. I have decided that I want to take on some big growth challenges in the next few months. Seeing how you handled the combination of post polio symptoms, PTSD, and caretaker burnout, helps me feel a bit more secure about successfully completing the challenges. Thank you so much for writing your memoir and selling it at Marathon Sports.
Best regards,


It's a perfect time to throw it back to that very special day, one year ago on 5/23/14, forever imprinted in my heart and soul as I wrote in my blog and share in "Journey Well":

Everything I Imagined and More - 5/25/14

"Imagination is everything. It's the preview of life's coming attractions." - Albert Einstein

I set an intention for my Book Release Party; ease, grace and gratitude and that everyone who attended the event would leave feeling inspired not only by me but by each other's stories.

Friday night's book release party for Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility was everything I imagined and more.

Ellen Gabriel, the manager of the Brookline Marathon Sports store had refreshments at the ready. She told me not to worry about doing a thing except setting up what I needed to set up.



Boston Marathon memorabilia. Spaulding Rehabilitation Network singlet I wore on 4/20/2009. My bib signed by Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers. The newspaper from the 2009 Hyannis Marathon/Half Marathon the first Half Marathon I ran with a brief interview with a reporter. My finisher's medal, finisher's photo, the Spaulding Race for Rehab souvenir book and a letter from Johnny Kelley the elder's nephew when they sent a signed photo of Johnny to us.

I was reunited with my coach Domenick D'Amico and Amy Yok-Ming Wong who I met several years ago during one of Domenick's return to Boston trips. She runs for the Parkinsons Foundation in honor of her mom who died from Parkinson's Disease.



Guests arrived. We socialized and schmoozed. There were introductions and hugs all around. The energy in the room was electric. I met Randy Pierce who recently qualified for Boston who I wrote about in my blog. I introduced him to my Coach and they were talking about the Boston Marathon course.

The love that I felt in cyberspace for friends such as Maureen Lamie, who works as a hair stylist, was even more powerful in person.



Karen DiMare and I met through a Gratitude Challenge on Facebook. She shared with me the frightening health challenge of her husband Chris and we developed an on line friendship. I encouraged her and Chris to advocate for themselves and supported their positive attitude as they went through the uncertainty of his diagnosis. I know that my journey helped to give them strength and hope.

They surprised me with the gift of their presence. Chris had a tumor on his spinal cord. He had to learn how to walk all over again. Karen is the owner of DiMare Holistic Skin Care and I could feel how she blesses her clients with her loving and caring touch.

I met Vicki Vogt by phone when I worked at the VA. She was a loving liaison at the Perkins Talking Book Library. When I met her in person several years ago to record my poetry books for Perkins, she shared with me that she is a polio survivor. We have stayed in touch via email and Facebook. She looked amazing when I saw her. At my suggestion, she went to Spaulding Rehab's International Rehab Center for Polio and said she feels better. I had mentioned that I now go to Spaulding Rehab's Aquatics Therapy program during my presentation. During the book signing, she asked me for more details and plans to follow up with our mutual doctor at Spaulding to see about getting a prescription to go there.

I was humbled and amazed when a group of people from L Street Running Club arrived, including the President Theresa and her husband Steve. There were people who aren't on Facebook and who I did not have email addresses for, but who I had seen as part of #supportcrew on long runs or from meetings. They heard about it through word of mouth and showed up to support me. They hadn't RSVP'ed that they were coming.

And my friends Maura and Meghan with whom we shared water stop duty last winter for L Street arrived with Dennis for whom they were doing the water stop because he was training for Boston.



It was time to begin.... I opened with this selection from the Introduction of my memoir

"I left home at the age of 5 – my earthly home that is. I contracted childhood paralytic polio. Polio was the AIDS of its day. If you contracted polio, you were shunned. There was a fear of contagion. Fear breeds ignorance that is far more devastating that any disease. Three years later my father fell into alcoholism and I was raped and beaten, threatened with death and tortured by my father for 9 years until he ended his life. My maternal grandmother physically, sexually and emotionally abused me with cruel rituals that tortured my body and my mind. My mother was addicted to prescription pain medication. My older brother was numb and trying to survive the chaotic household as best he could. He chose to align himself with the aggressors. I learned early on how to dissociate and to harness the power of my intellect to survive but I paid a steep price for leaving home and disowning my body. I bided my time until it was time to heal."


The room was silent yet the compassion and support for my journey was palpable. (Photo credit: Maura Walsh)




I shared an overview of my journey and read selections that talked about my Boston Marathon journey that all began at the Brookline Marathon Sports store where I was fitted for my first pair of running shoes at the age of 53.



Emotions welled up within me as I recalled the role that Domenick played throughout our training and how the Marathon Sports employees became family to Team McManus.

It was time to sign the books and greet my friends one by one.

Maura Walsh with whom I shared the water stop is a professional photographer. She also captured these special moments for me:


My dear friend John Young came out to support me. He said what a difference we had made when he was finishing his race as I write about in my blog post Today He Was The Hammer. He ran his fastest time for 16 miles in part because he knew we were waiting for him at the base of Heartbreak Hill.



Here's a photo of Amy, John and me. John and Amy connected because they are both running the NYC Marathon. John is going to use NYC for his Boston Qualifier race. Amy had read about John in my blog and are now friends.



After running the Cambridge 5 Miler/3 Mile City Walk, I connected with Jess Lanzoni who runs with Back On My Feet Boston. It was wonderful to meet her in person as we had run part of the way with women from Back On My Feet seeing how they encourage one another to just run to the next pole or stop sign or whatever. Jess is as warm, loving and genuine in person as she is in cyberspace. She told me in a facebook comment after the party that she would also like to buy additional copies of my memoir and asked if I would be donating a portion of the on line sales to The One Fund. I decided that I would donate 50% of the royalty payments which is $2/book to The One Fund to support the ongoing care that those affected by 4/15/13 are going to need.

Al Pappalardo has been a longtime friend. We met through the Merrimack Valley Striders Club. Last November we were reunited at the Feaster Five Expo. I had lost contact with Al and my friends in the running community after my nephew's suicide in 2011 when I stopped running and isolated myself from the running community. Here we are at the Expo:



He greeted me with, "Boy Mary, I had no idea the extent of your history." Al does charity work to prevent Child Abuse. I had sent him all the gift cards I had around the house for his raffle. I told him, "That's why I sent you all those gift cards for your event." I could feel the compassion flow from his heart.

People gave me checks and $20 bills saying keep the change for The One Fund.

We raised $122 for The One Fund from proceeds of book sales and the generosity of my friends.

At the end of the evening, Ellen took this photo of Tom and me:



He told me it was a no brainer when my team at Spaulding told me I had to quit my job if I had any hope of preventing the progression of post polio syndrome.

Seven years ago today I closed the door on one chapter of my life. Thirty of my friends came out to support me as I shared my healing odyssey and to celebrate the release of my memoir. My friends who could not be there in person sent me messages and told me they would be with me in Spirit. Were they ever!

The common thread among my friends and my life today is that we all believe in giving back. We take our challenges and create the best life we possibly can with them. While my friends applauded me at the end of my book reading, I applaud them for all that they are doing to make this world a better, more beautiful place in one way or another.

I am blessed and my heart overflows with gratitude especially to Ellen and to Marathon Sports.

In my mind's eye I visualized myself running, feeling free, whole and healthy as my pen became my Divining rod for healing as I wrote poetry after being diagnosed with post polio syndrome. It's been an incredible journey filled with ups, downs and everything in between but I am here now ready to write the next chapters of my journey.

My book release party and my life today is everything I imagined - and more.

###

What made my Book Release Party so special and what continues to make my life so special today is the amazing community of friends I have who embrace my journey and offer me cheers of unconditional love and support every mile of the way.

I am basking in the glow of this #tbt post and feeling deep gratitude for my journey these past 8 years!


Be blessed! Journey well! To all good things...

My latest book, "Journey Well" is now available on Amazon along with all of my inspirational books. 50% of book proceeds are donated to the Massachusetts Resiliency Center, a safe, welcoming space for survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing to heal and stay in touch with one another; a virtual hub for a widely dispersed community whose lives have been impacted by the tragic events of April 15th and the events that followed.

When terror struck the world's oldest and most beloved marathon on April 15, 2013, it was a defining moment in Mary McManus’ life and the lives of all those in Boston and around the world. It was her wake up call to return to the sport and community that have been medicine and a lifeline for her throughout her marathon of healing the late effects of paralytic polio and experiencing 9 years of domestic violence as a child and adolescent. Mary captures the essence of Boston Strong through her experience of the 2014 Boston Marathon and as she profiles the people who are Boston Stronger. Through her blog posts, poems and journal entries woven together with excerpts from her memoir, “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility,” you will experience, through one woman’s journey of transformation and healing, that no matter what happens to us, we can all learn to journey well.